I. Was. FUMING!
To hear from my sister in law, Mary, that Claire and Frank we’re taking my children away on holiday. Claire hadn’t mentioned anything about a holiday when we spoke. Mary was under the impression I knew all about it, but I didn’t.
Claire told me the ball was in my court. She knew I wanted to get to know the kids. She knew I was sticking around for a while purposely to get to know my children, even if they wouldn’t know I was their biological father.
I didn’t call her straight away, because I knew she would need to speak with Frank. As much as I wanted to call her and arrange to meet up with her and explain myself properly to her, I knew she would much appreciate some space to talk with Frank. I thought I was doing the right thing in giving her a day or two. I didn’t realise that whilst I thought I was giving them some space to discuss things between themselves, they were planning a last minute holiday with my children.
After Mary told me about the little getaway the Randall’s had planned, I tried to call Claire, but she didna answer. I left her a couple of voicemails and sent at least four text messages asking for her to contact me. She didna though.
I went down to her wee shop to see her, but Geillis was working herself.
“Wi it bein’ the school holidays and all, she’s taken some time off. I mean, ye saw wee Bree the other day. Claire only had her back turned for five mins and the lass takes off out the front on her scooter and falls in the middle of the bloody road. She’s just lucky she only had the one of them here wi’ her, canny imagine how much trouble the pair of them would get in to the gether.” Geillis laughed.
Geillis refused to gi’ me Claire’s address. I could understand, but I really needed to speak wi’ her before she took off wi’ the weans. I didna have a problem wi’ the holiday as such, I was just disappointed because it meant I probably wouldna be able to speak to Claire or see the kids until after they returned.
All I wanted was to speak to Claire and tell her my side of what happened all them years ago, so that when they returned, I could see my weans and get to know them. A new start. A fresh start.
Claire eventually called me back and told me that she and Frank were taking the weans on a wee short break, and she would come and see me when they returned on Wednesday. I told her I didna have an issue with them goin’ away, I was just disappointed that I wouldn’t have a chance to explain myself properly before they left. I was hoping she would find it a good idea for us to speak before she left, and that would hopefully give her more of a chance to relax and enjoy her wee holiday. And by doing that, it could maybe be a fresh start when they returned.
She didna agree though. She told me that she would see me when she returned, and then once we have spoken, she’ll decide if I can see the twins or not.
It was heartbreaking, but I had to accept that I have a lot of making up to do when it comes to Claire and our children. I just had to be patient.
I decided that whilst Claire and the kids were away, it would be the perfect time for me to go back to London and have a wee chat wi’ Laoghaire, and let her ken my plans for stayin’ in Scotland a bit longer. She doesna need to ken the details though. I’m sure Claire wouldna be happy if I started tellin’ random people of our children. Especially when the twins don’t even ken I’m their real da. It would also give me a chance to head to my own house in Wales, and get things sorted there. It would also give me a chance to read all of Claire’s letters before speaking with her next week.
The plan was to fly down to London on Friday morning. Have a meeting with Laoghaire in the afternoon before travelling to Wales for the weekend and then return to Lallybroch on Monday evening.
I didna expect to run in to Mr and Mrs Frank Randall and “their” two children on the same flight as me down to London.
“Uncle Jamie!” Bree cried as she ran towards me. She swung her wee arms out and wrapped them round my waist and hugged me tight.
“Bree, get back here now!” Claire snapped at our daughter. “Leave Jamie to find his seat in peace. Come and sit next to your father please.”
“Bye Uncle Jamie.” Bree said as she turned to head back down a couple of rows behind me to sit next to Frank. Her wee face was full of disappointment.
Just as I got seated, I could sense Claire stood next to me. I looked up at her and she stood with her arms folded across her chest.
“What the hell are you playing at?” She hissed at me through gritted teeth.
“On the same flight as us. Why Jamie?” She asked accusingly.
“Well, for starters... I didna ken ye’s were flying down to London, never mind being on this exact flight. Ye never did tell me where ye were goin’, remember?” Claire rolled her eyes at me, but I just ignored her. “Secondly, I have some things to sort out down south, and I figured since I wouldn’t be seein’ ye until next week, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to go and get things organised. I’ll be back at Lallybroch on Monday evening.”
“Fine. Well, have a nice weekend and I’ll see you when I get back.” She said dryly before turning to walk back to her seat.
I grabbed her arm and gently pulled her back to me. I tugged on her wrist to bring her closer so I could whisper something in her ear wi’out anyone else hearing. “Why is our daughter calling me Uncle?”
“Well, she’s certainly not going to call you daddy, is she?” Claire hissed in my ear before pulling back. She must of seen the hurt on my face, because she came closer again to continue. “It just made sense to them to call you Uncle Jamie, since that’s what they call Willie and Ian. If you would prefer they just called you Jamie, I’ll speak to them about it.”
“Nah. It’s fine. As long as that’s alright wi’ you Sassenach. I dinna want to cause any trouble for ye and Frank.” I answered softly. What else could I say?
“It’s fine. The kids are the priority in this situation. Frank is their father, but once you and I speak properly, and if we can come to some kind of arrangement that suits us all regarding the children, I don’t see any reason as to why you shouldn’t get to know them and they you. I need to know that I can trust you though Jamie. I need to know that my children can trust you. That, you won’t let them down and just take off out of their lives like they mean nothing to you.”
Before I could reassure her of anything, the flight attendant came over to ask Claire to find her seat. I turned my head to watch her walk back a couple of rows, and slide in to the aisle seat where she sat next to Willie. He looked over at me and flashed me a huge grin that reminded me of me when I was younger. When I was happy and full of life. I havena been like that in a long time. I smiled back at my son and gave him a wave.
After my meeting with Laoghaire, which was a waste of time by the way, I had a text come through from Claire. She asked if it would be possible for she and I to meet somewhere quiet in London so we could talk. Apparently she and Frank had discussed it may be better to sort things as soon as possible before us all being back up in the Highlands next week. They think it would be a good idea to sort things out before the twins run in to me again. I wasn’t opposed. This was exactly what I wanted to happen in the first place. I wanted to speak with Claire before she left Broch Mordha, so that when she and the children came home, it could be a fresh start.
I couldn’t think of anywhere in London that would give Claire and I the privacy we really needed, so I decided to check into a suite in one of my favourite hotels in the city. Not really ideal having Claire come to my hotel, but at least we would be alone. We wouldn’t get that in some small café somewhere. Especially in London. Unfortunately I don’t blend in as much as I would like. Claire and I certainly didn’t need anyone interrupting us for a selfie or an autograph. I didn’t want to draw attention to the British press either. The last thing we needed was pictures and false stories hitting the front pages of the papers and magazines.
Claire came to my hotel suite after she and Frank had dinner wi’ the kids. I’m no sure where they’re staying, but I ken it’s some place outside of the city.
Claire was wary as she stepped in to my suite. She looked beautiful in her light denim jeans and her long sleeved cream top. With it being the Autumn, Claire wore a matching grey woollen hat and scarf and a pair of grey slouch boots. She looked verra casual, but I’ve never seen her look so beautiful.
“Don’t Jamie. Can we just get this over with?” Claire cut me off as she walked past me to the lounge area of my suite.
I invited Claire to take a seat at the dining table that sat next to the window. Sitting there gave us a wonderful view of the city. Due to the evening getting a bit later, it was getting dark outside, which only made the view of the city better with all the lights.
“How are the bairns?” I ask, as I sit down opposite Claire at the table. I poured us both a glass of whisky.
“They’re alright, I suppose. They really miss Jenny. Frank and I are hoping this little break will be good for them.” She answered.
“Were they close wi’ Janet then?” I asked curiously. Even though I was estranged from my sister for such a long time, I always kent she would be a wonderful mother to her bairns. I was just curious as to how she was wi’ my weans.
“Very.” Claire said simply. “It wasn’t very often that the children didn’t see Jenny and Iain. If for some reason we couldn’t get to Lallybroch, or Jenny and Iain couldn’t come to us, the twins would go in to complete melt down. It would take Frank and I hours to calm them down.” Claire took a sip of her whisky before continuing. “I’m very lucky, so are the children, to have all these people around us to love us and support us. Jenny and Iain, Willie and Mary... they were all there for me right from the beginning. Geillis was too, whilst she was around. Even when she left, we spoke on the phone at least twice a week without fail. There was also Mary and Alex, and of course Frank. Even Jack. God, how those kids just adore Jack. Especially Bree. As much as the twins love everyone in their life, Jenny was their favourite aunt, and Jack is definitely their favourite uncle. Although, Willie does like to follow his uncle Willie around the place when he can.” She chuckled.
“I’m glad ye and the bairns have that Sassenach. I should of been there myself though. I canna apologise enough for no bein’ there when ye needed me. When my bairns needed me.” I said softly.
“Stop apologising Jamie. Just... just please tell me why you left like you did. I don’t want to be going around in circles. I just... I need an explanation. I don’t want to keep the children from you. I never have. I just need to make sure that you’re ready to be a part of their lives. No matter how big or how small a role you might play. I just need to know we can trust you.”
“Aye. Ye can trust me Sassenach. I ken me saying’ that doesna really count towards anythin’ but I promise ye, I’ll never walk away from ye or the bairns again. I understand ye dinna want to tell the bairn I’m their true father, that’s fine. I mean, it hurts, but I brought that on myself. I accept that. I just want a chance to get to ken my children, and for them to get to ken me. I want to be a part of my children’s lives. I want them to be able to come and talk to me about their worries, or their problems. I want to play sports wi’ them. I want to take them riding. Teach them how to cook—“
“Then you know what you have to do Jamie.” Claire sighed. “You need to tell me why you left me out of the blue and I ended up being a single mother.”